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I saw more important films at Sundance 2003, but none more purely enjoyable than "Bend It Like Beckham," which is just about perfect as a teenage coming-of-age comedy. It stars a young actress of luminous appeal, it involves sports, romance and of course her older sister's wedding, and it has two misinformed soccer moms--one who doesn't know a thing about the game and another who doesn't even know her daughter plays it.

The movie, set in London, tells the story of Jesminder Bjamra, known as "Jess," who comes from a traditional Indian family. Her parents are Sikhs who fled from Uganda to England, where her dad works at Heathrow airport. They live in the middle-class suburb of Hounslow, under the flight path of arriving jets, where her mother believes that Jess has two great duties in life: to learn to prepare a complete Indian meal, and to marry a nice Indian boy, in exactly that order.

Jess plays soccer with boys in the park. In her family's living room is a large portrait of a Sikh spiritual leader, but above Jess's bed is her own inspiration--the British soccer superstar David Beckham, better known to some as Posh Spice's husband. To Beckham's portrait she confides her innermost dream, which is to play for England. Of course a girl cannot hope to be a soccer star, and an Indian girl should not play soccer at all, since in her mother's mind the game consists of "displaying your bare legs to complete strangers." Jess is seen in the park one day by Juliette ( Keira Knightley ), who plays for the Hounslow Harriers, a woman's team, and is recruited to join them. The coach is a young Irishman named Joe ( Jonathan Rhys-Meyers ), and it is love at second or third sight--complicated, because Joe cannot date his players, and Juliette has a crush on him, too.

But all of these elements make the film sound routine, and what makes it special is the bubbling energy of the cast and the warm joy with which Gurinder Chadha , the director and co-writer, tells her story. I am the first to admit that Gurinder Chadha is not a name on everybody's lips, but this is her third film and I can promise you she has an unfailing instinct for human comedy that makes you feel good and laugh out loud.

Her previous film was the wonderful "What's Cooking," about four American ethnic families (African American, Latino, Jewish and Vietnamese) all preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, while their younger generations are connected in unsuspected ways. There is an emerging genre of comedies about second- and third-generation young people breaking loose from traditional parents (" My Big Fat Greek Wedding " is the most spectacular example), and I've seen these rite-of-entry comedies by directors with Filipino, Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Iranian and Korean backgrounds, and even one, " Mississippi Masala ," where Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury played two such characters whose stories meet.

"Bend It Like Beckham," which adds a British flavor to its London Metroland masala, is good not because it is blindingly original but because it is flawless in executing what is, after all, a dependable formula. The parents must be strict and traditional, but also loving and funny, and Mr. and Mrs. Bhamra ( Anupam Kher and Shaheen Khan ) are classic examples of the type. So is Juliette's mother, Paula (the wry, funny British star Juliet Stevenson ), who tries to talk her tomboy daughter into Wonderbras, and spends most of the movie fearing that a girl who doesn't want to wear one must be a lesbian. ("There's a reason why Sporty Spice is the only one without a boyfriend.") The editing by Justin Krish gets laughs all on its own with the precision that it uses to cut to reaction shots as the parents absorb one surprise after another.

Jess, played by Parminder K. Nagra , is a physically exuberant girl whose love of soccer crosses over into a love of life. She runs onto the field as if simply at play, she does cartwheels after scoring goals, and although she deceives her parents about her soccer dreams, she loves them and understands their point of view. Her father, who played cricket in Uganda but was discriminated against by the local London club, still bears deep wounds, but "things are different now," Jess tells him, and there is the obligatory scene where he sneaks into the crowd at a match to see for himself.

Can there be an Indian comedy without a wedding? " Monsoon Wedding " is the great example, and here, too, we get the loving preparation of food, the exuberant explosion of music, and the backstage drama. All ethnic comedies feature scenes that make you want to leave the theater and immediately start eating, and "Bend It Like Beckham" may inspire some of its fans to make Indian friends simply so they can be invited over for dinner.

The movie's values run deep. It understands that for Jess' generation soccer is not about displaying bare legs (Jess has another reason to be shy about that), but it also understands the hopes and ambitions of parents--and, crucially, so does Jess, who handles the tentative romance with her coach in a way that combines tenderness with common sense. A closing scene at the airport, which in a lesser movie would have simply hammered out a happy ending, shows her tact and love.

Like all good movies, "Bend It Like Beckham" crosses over to wide audiences. It's being promoted in the magazines and on the cable channels that teenage girls follow, but recently we showed it on our Ebert & Roeper Film Festival at Sea, to an audience that ranged in age from 7 to 81, with a 50ish median, and it was a huge success. For that matter, the hip Sundance audience, dressed in black and clutching cell phones and cappuccinos, loved it, too. And why not, since its characters and sensibility are so abundantly lovable.

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert

Roger Ebert was the film critic of the Chicago Sun-Times from 1967 until his death in 2013. In 1975, he won the Pulitzer Prize for distinguished criticism.

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Film credits.

Bend It Like Beckham movie poster

Bend It Like Beckham (2003)

Rated PG-13 For Language and Sexual Content

112 minutes

Shaheen Khan as Mrs. Bhamra

Parminder K. Nagra as Jesminder

Keira Knightley as Juliette

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers as Joe

Frank Harper as Alan

Juliet Stevenson as Paula

Anupam Kher as Mr. Bhamra

Shaznay Lewis as Mel

Archie Panjabi as Pinky

  • Guljit Bindra
  • Paul Mayeda Berges

Directed by

  • Gurinder Chadha

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Bend It Like Beckham and the Art of Balancing Cultures

When the film debuted 15 years ago, it taught me that shaping a hybrid identity could be a beautiful, inventive, and at times lonely experience.

film analysis bend it like beckham

When the comedy-drama film Bend It Like Beckham premiered in the U.K. 15 years ago, frenzy for the impending World Cup was ramping up. I was 12 at the time and happened to be visiting England that summer for family weddings; I can vividly recall the football fever that gripped the country. One of the wedding receptions took place during the World Cup Final, so groups of my male relatives would periodically disappear to the parking lot, turn on someone’s car, and listen to the radio for game updates. Brazil—which went on to win the tournament—scored its first goal just after the bhangra performance and right before I dipped roti into masoor dal.

By the end of the trip, I was homesick for Indiana, where I had been born and raised. “When I get married, I’m going to wear jeans, and everyone will eat fried chicken,” I’d tell people. “At my reception, we’re going to listen to Jewel.” As an Indian British American girl, what I was beginning to realize at that age was that I didn’t seem to quite belong anywhere. Yet, after watching Bend It Like Beckham in my last few days in England, I came to realize that transiency was, in some ways, a gift. In the absence of a place that reflected who I was, perhaps I could make my own.

Growing up in the U.S., I’d caught glimpses of Indian people in mainstream movies: There were villains and extras in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom , Mowgli in The Jungle Book , Oliver Warbucks’s bodyguard in Annie , and an assistant in A Little Princess . Then, in 2002, came Bend It Like Beckham , which managed to become an unlikely hit, grossing more than $76 million worldwide on a $6 million budget. The protagonist, Jesminder Bhamra, or “Jess” (played by Parminder Nagra), isn’t just a young woman trying to balance her British Indian identity while trying to stay true to herself—she’s also a Punjabi Sikh who loves football, like me, though I played the American kind ( Spiral It Like Manning ?).

Bend It Like Beckham ’s authenticity and vision made it an utter departure from anything else I’d seen, probably because the director Gurinder Chadha set the film in the area of England where she grew up and even attributes some of the movie’s success to its autobiographical components. Chadha, born in Africa to Indian parents who migrated to Britain, grew up accustomed to ambivalence. She was British, but also not; she was an Indian girl, but also not. She regularly clashed with her family’s traditions, refusing to wear Indian clothes and trying to get out of her cooking duties.

In Bend It Like Beckham , Jess also comes from a family who was part of the Indian Diaspora and resents the traditional agenda imposed on her. In nearly every scene, Chadha shows Jess trying to come up with her own unique formula for balancing her heritage and her obsession with football. When she’s in the kitchen with her mom, Jess is practicing knee-ups with a cabbage, and when hanging laundry, she bends the ball around the clothes—at once conforming to her cultural heritage and aligning herself with the most British of British sports. Chadha takes what could have been an abstract, internalized dilemma and translates it to the screen in a visually engaging way that also prompts empathy. But these scenes aren’t just convenient cinematic shorthand for conveying Jess’s dual identities. I recognized what Jess was doing: experimenting with making her “own” culture by inventing little, symbolic rituals.

In the summer of 2002, during the wedding receptions, I discovered that part of being a good Indian girl meant knowing Indian music and dancing to it. Dancing was far from one of my talents or interests, so to shirk my responsibilities, I developed a strategy: I’d run and hide in the bathroom every time the music started, no matter how much I enjoyed the song. Whether at a table, in the bathroom line, or in the bathroom itself, I’d find myself twisting the small pins I’d secretly attached to the underside of my tunic. One was an American flag, and the other was one of the two checkered flags that wave during the last lap of the Indianapolis 500. I can’t remember how I ended up with these little talismans, but they brought me a lot of comfort in those moments. In response to familial and cultural pressures, I clung more tightly to my Hoosier ties.

But the affection for and sense of connection to a culture isn’t always reciprocated. Despite her love of the sport, Jess doesn’t necessarily “fit” on the football pitch either, as illustrated most starkly when a white girl on the opposing team commits a foul and calls Jess a racial slur: “Paki.” Jess shoves the girl, receives a red card, and sits out the rest of the game. She doesn’t have a fellow Indian teammate or coach to turn to who might understand the situation.

Though I didn’t face such outright racism growing up ( something that changed once I got older ), I understood Jess’s alienation. Once I was back in Indiana, in middle school, I found myself yearning for Aero chocolate bars, pakoras, getting around a city by foot, and an actual community of Indians. I missed sitting with my many male cousins and tearing up Styrofoam plates into confetti no one would use and mixing every fizzy drink together into a concoction we’d call “volcano.” The World Cup and weddings felt far away, even though only months had passed. I had already felt different from my friends because I was one of a handful of Indian students in a school of 900; trying to explain my summer and a whole other aspect of my cultural identity to them made me feel even more removed. To deal with these feelings, I kept a Warwick Castle postcard in my Trapper Keeper binder and wore a blue rugby shirt that I’d bought with my British cousins to school as often as possible.

In showing Jess in so many traditional situations—making Indian food, dancing at her sister’s wedding ceremonies, and trying to wrap a pink sari in the locker room— alongside the scenes of her trying to pursue football, Bend It Like Beckham helps viewers better understand Jess’s masterpiece invention of a hybrid identity. She’s not just an Indian girl completely ignoring her roots, yet she’s also not resigning herself to a life dedicated to perfecting her appearance in preparation for marriage, cooking, and tidying up the house. To play soccer in the park with the boys and then secretly play for a team, while also trying to be a good Indian daughter, requires nonstop maneuvering.

In a 2003 interview, Chadha explained that David Beckham’s trademark kick—curling the ball so it looks like it’s going one way, but, in midair, actually swerves around a wall of defenders before hitting the back of the goal—presents “a great metaphor for a lot of us, especially girls. We can see our goal but instead of going straight there, we too have to twist and bend the rules sometimes to get what we want—no matter where ‘we’ reside, no matter what group ‘we’ claim or do not embrace as part of ‘our’ ethnic lineage.”

In Bend It Like Beckham , Jess also tweaks the rules she’s expected to follow in order to achieve her goals. The future her parents want for her doesn’t make room for her football dreams, so Jess quits to appease her family—but that, too, makes her unhappy. Finally, her dad bends his own idea of what daughters can and cannot do, and allows her to sneak out of her sister’s wedding reception to play in her team’s final tournament game—a match that will be attended by an American scout. Part of Jess’s way to playing football means giving up and coming back home, and then trying again with parental permission; going straight for what she wants isn’t possible.

The inter-cutting of the climactic football and wedding scenes captures the beauty and fullness Jess achieves from weaving her worlds together. By the end of the film, Jess supports her sister, gets approval from her father, plays a sport she loves, and scores a game-winning free kick. And how does she score? In place of the wall of defending players, she imagines her mother, sisters, and other female relatives dressed in saris—and bends the ball, literally like Beckham, around them. When Jess’s teammates lift her in the air, it truly feels as though she’s transcended so many of the restrictions placed on her. In the locker room afterward, her teammates try to help her put her sari back on so she can get back to the wedding—a move that finally expresses their solidarity with her and respect for her culture.

Bend It Like Beckham offered an optimistic message of cultural wholeness I needed as I entered the thick of middle school, 4,000 miles from England and 7,400 from my grandparents’ rural Indian villages. It made me realize I didn’t have to try so hard to fit in, and could work on reveling in the moments when I didn’t. The film made me proud of how so many of my experiences are particular to me —wearing a bindi with my high-school graduation dress, teaching baseball to my British cousins, eating Indian food from my relative’s pub, and doing a Punjabi yoga DVD with my grandmother in Indiana. I get to live a life of constant innovation.

How 'Bend it Like Beckham' Became a Cultural Phenomenon

How a film about British South Asians became the ultimate movie for underdogs.

The Big Picture

  • "Bend it Like Beckham" shattered expectations and became a global success, despite doubts from the cast and director themselves.
  • The film's portrayal of identity, culture, and important themes ahead of its time contributed to its timeless classic status.
  • The film pushes boundaries by embracing queerness, breaking stereotypes, and showcasing female intersectionality through comedy. It also sheds light on the unifying power of football in a racially divided society.

More than 20 years ago, Jess Bhamra ( Parminder Nagra ), an 18-year-old British Indian football fanatic, first graced our screens in a surreal initial dream scene entrance, her face photoshopped onto a football player running around a pitch, and her goal being discussed by dream-version Gary Lineker in the BBC Sports Studio newsroom. Today, Gurinder Chadha ’s humbly-originated film is considered a global box office smash-hit; its iconic 2000s nostalgia, quirky humor, and important portrayal of themes related to identity and culture, all making it a timeless classic.

One thing that stands out about this film is that no one, from the cast to the director herself, thought the film would go on to have the success it did. Bend it Like Beckham , both written and directed by Gurinder Chadha, the first-ever British-Asian woman to direct a full-length feature film with her 1993 Bhaji on the Beach , went on to gross almost £60 million at the box office, alongside receiving global critical acclaim for its wit, coming-of-age relatability and its uniquely authentic representation of British-Asian culture. Many also consider it today as a film that was well before its time.

What Makes 'Bend it Like Beckham' Iconic?

Jess and Juliette smiling at each other while on the football field in Bend It Like Beckham

Despite some of the film’s questionable elements, like the power dynamic of the romantic relationship between coach Joe ( Jonathan Rhys Meyers ) and 18-year-old Jess, it’s easy to see how this is a such a widely held view of Bend it Like Beckham , from the way it embraces queerness in South Asian communities, breaks down stereotypes of women, and generally showcases female intersectionality, all through a unifying theme of comedy. Not only did the film take a deep-dive into crucial themes of identity and British-Asian culture in a way that had never been done before, or sadly, even since its release, Bend it Like Beckham also captured the best of British culture and shed light on the renowned game of football as one of very few aspects of “Britishness” that tends to successfully unite the whole nation, which is somewhat ironic, given the still-prevalent racial disparities and systemic exclusion that operates behind the scenes. Clearly, in terms of systemic racism and discrimination, we still have a way to go in both the US and the UK, as much still remains the same since 2002, but the film was certainly unique in bringing these issues to the forefront, especially important at a time of heightened discrimination towards South Asian communities in a post-9/11 world.

Teen Movies That Defined the Early 2000s collage of the movies features in the article

8 Teen Films That Defined the Early 2000s

As Gurinder Chadha has stated herself , the film was intended to be about the “bending of rules rather than the breaking of rules or breaking of tradition." To me, as a person of South Asian descent, just being able to see someone who looked like me on screen in the UK, a darker-skinned Indian girl, was already in itself a bending of the rules; a momentous step away from the norms of television and films that I had grown up with. Not only did the film simply feature one character like this, but Jess Bhamra was the star of the film, not a side-kick or forgotten about, punch-of-the-joke role. For myself, my sister and many South Asian friends who grew up in late ‘90s to early 2000s Britain, the film reflected so much of our childhood and cultural communities with an eerie level of accuracy - in particular, the struggles of growing up between two cultures and trying to fit in between two worlds, at a time when topics like racism were considered to be more “taboo” to discuss perhaps compared to today’s teen “Gen-Z” generation. As such, we all looked up to the fictional characters portrayed so vividly and humorously in the film, where Jess Bhamra in particular pushes boundaries in all the best ways, embodying the film’s premise of bending the rules and even symbolizing a subtler form of teenage rebellion.

The film continually pushes the boundaries in so many other ways too, really making it the ultimate underdog film for underdogs, from the perception of women in sports, to the portrayal of immigrants in the UK. While some may argue that certain characters like Jules ( Keira Knightley ) succumb to stereotypical depictions of what women who love sports should supposedly be like — tomboys who hate all things "girly" — many fans of the film definitely resonated with Jules' character arc as she slowly manages to convince her mother to support her sporting ambitions.

'Bend it Like Beckham' Gives Us Nuanced Characters

Bend it Like Beckham-Jess

Other characters are more nuanced and complex in the way that they raise questions of what is considered to be "conventional," Jess's older sister, Pinky ( Archie Panjabi ), being a key example. On the surface, Pinky is just another make-up loving, boy-obsessed, classic "girl" who is desperate to get married. Taking a deeper look, though, Pinky's character strays away from several South Asian conventions of what is considered to be a "good immigrant daughter," proudly loving her fiancé and appearing clearly happy on her wedding day — something that even the wedding photographer reacts in surprise to. "Eyes down! Look sad! Don't smile! Indian brides never smile. You'll ruin the bloody video!"

From a western perspective, there may appear to be nothing groundbreaking about Pinky's character. But she definitely bends the Bollywood-like expectation of Indian brides, unhappy on their wedding days, due to historical context that stems from the discouragement of newly married Indian women from visiting their parental homes and the traditionally common arranged marriages that used to dominate Indian partnerships. Chadha’s film certainly differs entirely from Bollywood portrayals of South Asian characters, while still celebrating the culture, taking on an East-is-East -like brutally honest-yet-comedic depiction of the lives of immigrants in the UK that crucially enables people of color and immigrant families to be the making of all aspects of humor, instead of the butt of the joke. It is this very element that makes the film so relatable to those of us who not only grew up in between two worlds, but found it actively difficult to navigate their differing expectations, a wider concept that is familiar to people regardless of their cultural background who perhaps struggled to "fit in" in other ways.

'Bend it Like Beckham' Shows Women Can Excel in Sports, Too

Bend it Like Beckham-locker room

Aside from the specific characters, the film consistently focuses on depicting women as athletic symbols instead of sexual objects, all the montage-like sequences of football practice sessions and matches really making it a classic sports comedy with women at its forefront. Through its unique intersection of football and cultural community, it makes sense that Bend it Like Beckham was so successful across the UK before its wider success over the globe. The BBC recently released a short documentary feature on the film, presented by Miriam Walker-Khan , a BBC Sports journalist, which shows the real, tangible impact the film had on the lives of so many young football-loving women from all racial and class backgrounds across the country — including one South Asian woman footballer, now playing for the Women’s Super League. In the documentary, she talks about how looking up to Jess Bhamra’s character actively changed the course of her life, inspiring her to pursue professional football. The film was evidently the first of its kind to focus on women’s football in any way, making it a standout cultural piece in a football-obsessed country.

Despite all the fairly serious issues covered in Bend it Like Beckham , Gurinder Chadha’s style of comedic writing and directing is truly what made the film a cultural phenomenon. Instead of veering into darker territories, the film exemplifies all the best-loved elements of rom-com and coming-of-age comedies, with quotable lines, an upbeat 2000s soundtrack (you can almost hear Curtis Mayfield's "Move On Up" playing when you just think about the film), and the cliché timings of all the most pivotal life events occurring on the same day. The humor is wonderfully satirical, managing to appeal to the inside-joke nature of people in-the-know about South Asian community events, while also engaging wider audiences with its references to 2000s pop culture like the infamous Spice Girls, and its all-round broader nod to the universally-all-too-well-known dramatic teen years (cue Jess sitting on the floor of her bedroom gazing at a poster of David Beckham on her walls).

Alongside the comedic dialogue, the film contains so many visually beautiful and important depictions of South Asian communities, with the scene of Jess being dressed in a sari by her Hounslow Harrier teammates in the girls’ changing room standing out as a metaphor of her clear belonging despite her differences: a metaphor that serves as a reminder to embrace what makes you unique — truly a coming-of-age hallmark moment.

There’s simply nothing quite like Bend it Like Beckham , as Chadha stated in an interview with Gal-dem magazine , “I was able to say: ‘This is what it’s like for us. We don’t have to just be what you think we are, we can also be this.’”

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Parminder Nagra and Keira Knightley in Bend It Like Beckham

Bend It Like Beckham: the film that ignited a love for football in so many women and girls

When this unassuming comedy came out in 2002, women’s football wasn’t a professional sport in the UK or Australia. It’s worth revisiting as the Women’s World Cup approaches

  • Bend It Like Beckham is streaming on Binge. For more recommendations of what to stream in Australia, click here

W hen Bend It Like Beckham came out in 2002, women’s football wasn’t a professional sport in the UK or Australia. But with Jesminder “Jess” Bhamra, the film’s inspiring central character, came hope for all women and girls dreaming of being the next big thing. More than 20 years on fans still celebrate what the film did for aspiring female footballers and British-Asian women. And, in the lead-up to this year’s Women’s World Cup , it acts as a gentle reminder that opportunities in women’s sport haven’t been, and still aren’t, always on par with those of men.

In a sleepy suburb of west London under Heathrow’s flight path, Jess (Parminder Nagra) can’t get enough of football. Having just undertaken her college entry exams to become a solicitor, her love of the game and room full of Beckham memorabilia displeases her parents to no end. “You don’t even want to learn how to cook dahl!” her mother says with despair.

It is not until Jules (Keira Knightley) recruits her for the local girls team, the Hounslow Harriers, that she begins to dream beyond playing football in the park. While their home lives couldn’t be more different, both of them have mothers who don’t respect their sport. Soon they are thick as thieves.

Jess’s sister Pinky (Archie Punjabi, now best known as the dry-witted Kalinda Sharma on The Good Wife ) is newly engaged and in a perpetual state of stress about having the perfect Indian wedding – an affair that quickly takes over the Bhamra household. And Jules has a hovering, glamazon mum (played by an annoying and brilliant Juliet Stevenson) who is preoccupied with her daughter’s life choices. “There’s a reason why Sporty Spice is the only one of them without a fella,” she says.

The girls’ champion is their coach Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who falls in love with Jess’s potential and passion, and does everything a good sport coach should do: challenges, nurtures and rallies behind his players.

As Jess takes flight, chances are snatched away from her, which comes as a real kick in the guts. This is where Nagra, then a newcomer to the silver screen, comes into her own: acting with the ease and sincerity of a seasoned professional; lovable, funny, acutely vulnerable – and yet so determined.

Knightley, too – just 17 during the filming – is confident and eager as go-getter Jules (even if the actor is a little awkward at times); just a year later she was a Hollywood darling, appearing in Pirates of the Caribbean and Love Actually.

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Alongside the splendour of Indian weddings and Indian feasts, the film’s cultural references are deep and genuine. Set to a much-celebrated Punjabi soundtrack, with early 2000s hits and Spice Girls tracks, the music transports you into the culture clash that plays out on screen. Will Jess choose her family or football? Will she be able to defy cultural norms and fall in love with an Irishman? Can her father put aside the anti-Indian discrimination he faced at a cricket club and encourage his daughter to pursue her talents?

In one of the film’s pivotal matches, Jess imagines her family blocking the goalposts and wringing their hands. Dressed in their wedding saris on the pitch, the mirage is so comical and, for a second, so believable, that it is hard to imagine how Jess maintains her focus to take aim at the ball.

It is these moments of humour that make this unassuming little film shine. Jess’s love for her family and for the game must coexist, no matter how much they threaten to tear each other apart. In the end, she proves you can master aloo gobi and bend a ball like Beckham.

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16 things you probably didn't know about 'Bend It Like Beckham'

  • The sports comedy "Bend It Like Beckham" was an instant hit after its 2002 release.
  • Stars Keira Knightley and Parminder Nagra did months of soccer training before filming.
  • David Beckham happily approved of his name being used in the film.

The production staff was worried that people wouldn't get the title in the US.

film analysis bend it like beckham

"Bend It Like Beckham" was created by British writer/director Gurinder Chadha, and the film was first released in the UK , so there were some concerns that American audiences wouldn't understand the film's title.

The filmmakers weren't sure if they would get what it meant to "bend" a soccer ball or know who David Beckham was — he hadn't yet gained the American pop-culture status he has today.

According to ESPN, the movie's US title was almost changed to "Move It Like Mia," in reference to American professional soccer player Mia Hamm. Director Gurinder Chadha told the " Burn It All Down" podcast in 2019 that "Soccer and Me" was also considered.

But in the end, Chadha pushed for keeping "Bend It Like Beckham," and she was ultimately successful.

In Germany, however, the film's title did change.

film analysis bend it like beckham

For its German release, the film changed its name to "Kick It Like Beckham" to avoid any confusion about what "bending" meant.

Bending is a signature skill of Beckham's where he can kick the ball so it curves around obstacles and is harder for a goalie to track. But they decided to change the word to "kicking" in the title to try and reach a wider audience. 

According to Chadha, the title is about more than just soccer.

film analysis bend it like beckham

In a 2003 interview with BlackFilm, Chadha said that the title works on more than one level — which is why she was so adamant about keeping it for the international releases.

Apart from being a reference to pro footballer Beckham, who she describes as the " Michael Jordan of soccer in England," it's also a metaphor for achieving life goals.

"[It's a] great metaphor for a lot of us, especially girls. We can see our goal but instead of going straight there, we too have to twist and bend the rules sometimes to get what we want." 

She elaborated in her "Burn It All Down" interview , saying, "... I never played soccer, but I understood the metaphor of it and for me it was a film about people breaking the rules, but actually you're bending the rules."

She continued, "So what I did my whole life was bend the rules, and there were expectations of how I should behave as girl, as an Indian girl, and then a woman. I kept trying to duck and dive that to be who I am."

Beckham let the movie use his name to promote women's soccer.

film analysis bend it like beckham

Chadha told The Telegraph in 2015 that Beckham agreed to let the film use his name and likeness because he's a big fan of supporting girls' and women's soccer. 

"He said, 'I wholeheartedly support this because I support girls' football and want families to come to matches,'" Chadha told the publication. 

Chadha wasn't a soccer expert when she created the film.

film analysis bend it like beckham

According to the same 2015 interview with The Telegraph , Chadha didn't know much about the sport when she was inspired to write a movie about soccer .

She said that she even used to write placeholders in the script like, "Jargon jargon football jargon."

The lead actors spent months in soccer training to prepare for their roles.

film analysis bend it like beckham

Knightley (who played Jules) told Interview magazine in 2012 that she and Nagra (who played Jess) had 20 weeks of rigorous soccer practice before filming. 

According to ESPN , famed English coach Simon Clifford led their training, and he was convinced that Knightley was such a natural she could have gone professional.

"If I'd trained her from the age of 10 or 11, without a shadow of a doubt Keira could have been a pro," he said. 

Knightley had, in fact, played soccer in primary school, but she told Interview that her team "never actually scored a goal. We only kicked people."

Nagra did the "bending" all on her own — and on the first take.

film analysis bend it like beckham

All that soccer training paid off for Nagra because she didn't end up having to use a professional stand-in or body double for the film. She learned how to bend the ball herself.

The scene where Jess is hanging up the laundry in the backyard was the first soccer sequence that was shot, and according to Chadha, Nagra was able to get the kick right on the first take.

"Everybody jumped up and cheered. It was absolutely fantastic," Chadha said in a director's commentary clip from Fox Searchlight . "They were like, 'Oh she can bend a ball. It's not going to be a waste of time then.'"

Some of the other castmates were real soccer players.

film analysis bend it like beckham

Chadha told BlackFilm that, apart from Knightley, Nagra, and Tricia Marie "Shaznay" Lewis — who's a member of the popular English-Canadian girl group All Saints — the film's fictional Hounslow Harriers soccer team was composed mostly of players from real London football clubs.

Nagra worried her scar would keep her from getting the role.

film analysis bend it like beckham

Like her character, Nagra has a big scar on her leg, and initially, the actor was worried that she wouldn't be cast in a role where she had to wear shorts because it would expose her injury.

Chadha told the "Burn It All Down" podcast that she remembered getting an email from Nagra's agent that said, "... If she's gonna be in shorts, we need you to know she's got a huge burn down her leg. We didn't want to tell you before in case that influenced your choice, but now we need to tell you." 

"I think they thought I was not gonna give her the role because of that," the director said. 

But Chadha had no problem adding her scar to the script . She even used the real story: Nagra burned herself as a child while trying to make beans on toast.  

Chadha made two cameos in the movie.

film analysis bend it like beckham

"If you know my films you'll know I always love a cameo," the director recently wrote in a post on Facebook .

Chadha had two cameos in "Bend It Like Beckham ." In one scene, she played a jogger in the park who Jules and Jess run past, and in another, she was a guest at Jess' sister's wedding.

Many of Chadha's family members also made appearances.

film analysis bend it like beckham

Chadha told the "Burn It All Down" podcast that she filled out the cast with people she knew, including her mom, aunts, and friends.

"I did really well on cheap extras," she joked. 

She went on to say, "... It was wonderful making the film in that part of the community, and we never knew it was going to be as successful as it was ..."

Additionally, Chadha told Time Out that her mother is one of the four women standing behind the main characters on the movie's poster . 

The film is semi-autobiographical, and some characters are based on people from Chadha's life.

film analysis bend it like beckham

The director told the "Burn It All Down" podcast and Time Out that portions of the movie are autobiographical and many of its characters are based on people she knows.

For example, Jules' mom is based on her friends' moms growing up, and Jess' strict Indian parents are based on her own mom and dad — especially the parts where Jess' mom wants her to learn how to be a perfect Indian cook so she'll find a nice husband. 

Jess and Jules' jersey numbers are significant.

film analysis bend it like beckham

Throughout the film, Jess wears the number seven, which was Beckham's Manchester United/England number .

Jules wears Hamm's number , nine, and she idolizes the pro American player in the film. 

It was the first Western-made movie shown on TV in North Korea.

film analysis bend it like beckham

According to the BBC, the British embassy arranged for "Bend It Like Beckham" to be shown in North Korea in 2010 to mark the 10-year anniversary of the countries' diplomatic ties — making it the first Western-made film to be broadcast in the country. 

The film depicts interracial relationships, homosexuality, and open talks about religion, all of which were considered taboo topics in North Korea, so its airing was a big deal.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers was worried the movie would be terrible.

film analysis bend it like beckham

Jonathan Rhys Meyers played Joe, the coach of Jules and Jess' soccer team, in "Bend It Like Beckham." But he told Marie Claire in 2007 that he originally "thought it was going to be terrible."

"Even in the beginning I was like, 'I don't want to do this,'" he said. "But I spoke to my brother and he said, 'Do the film. Everybody's going to love this.'"

The movie was adapted into a West End musical in 2015.

film analysis bend it like beckham

In 2015, Chadha helped to adapt the film into "Bend It Like Beckham: The Musical."

The show premiered in London's West End, and it featured music by "Phantom of the Opera" lyricist Charles Hart and award-winning composer Howard Goodall.

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bend it like beckham

15 Behind-the-Scenes Facts About ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ You Never Knew

Revisit the sports film in honor of its 20th anniversary.

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If you haven’t seen it in a while, do yourself a favor and give it a rewatch — Beckham is streaming on Disney+ and available to purchase elsewhere. Despite being two decades old, the movie is just as smart, funny, and feminist as ever, with Jess’ (Parminder Nagra) and Jules’ (Keira Knightley) fight to play the sport they love, despite sexist and racist challenges, feeling even more urgent and inspiring.

But even if you have seen Beckham a few dozen times, you probably don’t know everything about how the iconic film came to be. Below, we’ve rounded up 15 pieces of behind-the-scenes trivia about the movie, from the story behind Jess’ scar to the film’s wild North Korean connection.

The Title Was Almost Totally Different

Back in the early ’00s, most Americans had no idea who David Beckham was, nor what it meant to “bend” a soccer ball. As such, studio execs urged the film’s director/co-writer , Gurinder Chadha, to make the title Move It Like Mia instead (after women’s soccer great Mia Hamm, a household name in the United States). Yet the filmmaker resisted, partly because she felt U.S. audiences would still connect to it, and partly because she felt the original title had an important double meaning. “[It’s a] great metaphor for a lot of us, especially girls,” Chadha told BlackFilm in a 2003 interview. “We can see our goal, but instead of going straight there, we too have to twist and bend the rules sometimes to get what we want.”

David Beckham Was a Big Supporter of the Movie

Chadha chose Beckham for the titular player because of his skills and fandom in the U.K., but it wasn’t a sure bet that the soccer great would approve of his name and likeness being used. Yet when approached with the question, Beckham was more than happy to say yes. As Chadha recounted in a 2015 Telegraph interview, Beckham said, “I wholeheartedly support this because I support girls’ football and want families to come to matches.” We love to see it!

It’s Loosely Based on Two Real Soccer Players’ Lives

While the movie’s story is fictional, Chadha took inspiration from two actual soccer players: Ian Wright, who made waves as a popular Black player in England, and Permi Jhooti, who became the first Asian professional women’s soccer player in 2000. “It does follow my own experiences very well, even down to the relationship with the coach,” Jhooti said of the movie in a 2007 interview with The New Zealand Herald .

Parminder Nagra Thought Her Leg Scar Would Prevent Her From Playing Jess

One of the most moving parts of Bend It Like Beckham is when Jess decides not to hide the large scar on her leg from a childhood injury and wear shorts on the field. But that wasn’t makeup; Nagra really did burn her leg badly as an 8-year-old, and when auditioning for the movie, the actress was concerned that it would prevent her from getting the role. Yet Chadha chose to include the scar in the film , even giving Jess Nagra’s real backstory of how she got injured.

Nagra and Knightley Practiced Soccer for Months — and Got Really Good

To prepare for their roles as athletes, both lead actresses spent three months in training , going so hard that they suffered injuries like concussions and broken toes. Despite the challenge, though, Nagra and Knightley powered through, with Knightley getting so good that her coach thought she “could have been a pro” if she’d started earlier in life, per ESPN . As for Nagra, she managed to “bend” the ball on the very first take , making it clear that these two stars had no need for the typical stand-ins or body doubles used in sports movies.

The Rest of the Soccer Team Consisted of Real Players

To round out Jess and Jules’ team, the Hounslow Harriers, the filmmakers cast real players from professional London soccer clubs. The athletes and actresses mixed so well that getting into game mode was easy — perhaps too easy. “We literally had become a really solid team,” Nagra said in a 2003 USA Today interview. “We got so into it once that Gurinder stormed across the pitch, shouting, ‘Cut! Cut! Have you forgotten this is a movie?’”

There Wa s a 10-Year Age Gap Between Nagra and Knightley

Although they both played teenagers, Nagra and Knightley were in very different life stages themselves; Nagra (born in 1975) was 26 when filming, while Knightley (born in 1985) was just 16. Despite the major age gap, though, the actresses easily convinced audiences of their characters’ bond.

Joe Wasn’t Supposed to Be Irish

In the script, Joe was written as English, just like Jess and Jules. But during auditions, when Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers read with Nagra for the scene in which Jess confides to Joe about being called a derogatory term for Pakistanis, Rhys Meyers improvised a line about being Irish. Ultimately, the line, “Jess, I’m Irish. Of course I’d understand what that feels like,” was included in the film. Director Chadha explained the inclusion in an interview with gal-dem in 2022, saying, “Well, when my parents first came to England in the ‘60s, people like them found it hard to rent accommodation. There were signs on the doors saying: No blacks. No Irish. No dogs. So that’s where that line comes from. And I grew up at a time when there was a lot of racism against the Irish. And still is to some degree.”

This Wasn’t the Only Time When Anupam Kher Played Nagra’s Dad

Many fans would agree that the complicated but always loving relationship between Jess and her dad, Mohaan (Anupam Kher), is one of the best things about Beckham . And as it turns out, the actors themselves clearly loved their on-screen connection as well, as they played father and daughter once more on ER a few years later. What a sweet reunion!

Kevin Was a Way Bigger Role Originally

At several points throughout the film, Jules’ mom mentions a guy named Kevin, implying that he’s a teenager around Jules’ age who she wishes was dating her daughter. Yet because Kevin is never seen, the references feel a bit confusing — which is due, apparently, to the fact that a scene showing Jules’ mom meeting Kevin was cut from the movie. You can catch it in the deleted scenes, as well as several other moments that didn’t make the final cut.

The Wedding Guests Were Relatives of the Director

One of the biggest plotlines in Beckham is the engagement of Jess’ sister Pinky, culminating in a big, gorgeous wedding full of friends and family. As it turns out, many of those guests were actually related to Chadha (including her mom!), invited by the director to fill in the scenes. As for the others, they were members of the local Hounslow Sikh community, all wearing their own clothes and celebrating like it was a real wedding. Even the chauffeur wasn’t an actor, but was a real driver — and he apparently thought he was driving to a real wedding, not taking part in a movie!

Rhys Meyers Thought It Was Going to Bomb

Although Beckham would go on to be a huge success (more on that in a moment), not everyone involved thought it would do well. Rhys Meyers told Marie Claire in 2007 that he originally thought it was going to be “terrible” and didn’t want to be associated with it. “For months and months and months, I refused to tell anybody that I’d been in a film called Bend It Like Beckham . Even in the beginning, I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this,’” he recalled. Fortunately, the actor was convinced to sign on, and he ended up taking pride in the film’s legacy. Speaking of which …

It Broke Some Major Box-Office Records

With a worldwide gross of more than $76 million, Bend It Like Beckham became the highest-grossing soccer movie in the U.S. at the time (eventually getting beaten out by Kicking & Screaming and She’s the Man ). Even more notably, it became the highest-grossing Indian-themed movie in the U.S. since Gandhi way back in 1982 and remains today as one of the highest-grossing Asian-themed British films.

It Was the First Western Movie to be Shown on North Korea Television

Yes, really. In 2010, to mark the 10-year anniversary of the U.K. and North Korea’s diplomatic ties, the British embassy arranged for Bend It Like Beckham to be broadcast on North Korean TV — a first for a Western-made movie in the country. While it might seem like an odd choice considering the film’s progressive take on topics like interracial and LGBTQ+ relationships, some of the material was cut, with the movie edited down by eight minutes.

It Was Adapted Into a Stage Musical

With its feel-good story and nail-biting drama, it’s no wonder that Beckham was adapted into a musical. Plans to bring it to the stage started as early as 2003, but it wasn’t until 2015 when it launched in London. Written (along with her husband) and directed by Chadha, the musical ran for just nine months, but it is notable for featuring Jamie Campbell Bower (of Twilight , Harry Potter , and Stranger Things ) as Joe, the role played in the movie by Rhys Meyers.

Rachel Simon is a writer with work in The New York Times , Glamour , NBC News , Marie Claire , and many other outlets. Follow her on Twitter @rachel_simon .

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Bend It Like Beckham

Bend It Like Beckham

  • Two ambitious girls, despite their parents' wishes, have their hearts set on careers in professional football.
  • A kaleidoscope of color and culture clash humorously as an Indian family in London tries to raise their soccer-playing daughter in a traditional way. Unlike tarty elder sister Pinky, who is preparing for an Indian wedding and a lifetime of cooking the perfect chapatti, Jess' dream is to play soccer professionally like her hero David Beckham. Wholeheartedly against Jess' unorthodox ambition, her parents eventually reveal that their reservations have more to do with protecting her than with holding her back. When Jess is forced to make a choice between tradition and her beloved sport, her family must decide whether to let her chase her dream...and a soccer ball.
  • A comedy about bending the rules to reach your goal, Bend It Like Beckham explores the world of women's football, from kick-abouts in the park to freekicks in the Final. Set in Hounslow, West London and Hamburg, the film follows two 18 year olds with their hearts set on a future in professional soccer. Heart-stopping talent doesn't seem to be enough when your parents want you to hang up your football boots, find a nice boyfriend and learn to cook the perfect chapatti. — Anonymous
  • Teen-aged Londoner Jesminder Bhamra - Jess for short - is fanatical about football. She even uses a poster of her idol, footballer David Beckham , as her confidante. Although she only plays in pick-up games in the park with her male friends, she is naturally gifted at it. She's spotted by Juliette Paxton - Jules for short - who plays in a local women's league, and who talks Jess into coming to try out for her team. Jules has aspirations of playing in the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA) professional league in the United States. Playing organized sports goes against Jess' traditional Punjabi parents' wants for her - especially her mother's - which are to go to law school and to learn how to cook Punjabi food so that she can attract a nice Punjabi husband. But Jess is determined to play on Jules' team regardless of her parents. Jess sees Jules as having the perfect situation, not realizing that Jules also has a mother who doesn't want her daughter to focus so much attention on football, but for slightly different reasons. The team's compassionate and sympathetic coach Joe tries to help Jess overcome any of these obstacles in whatever way he can. Jess has to try and reconcile these two aspects of her life, especially in the lead up to the final game at which an American scout will be in attendance who may be able to get both Jules and Jess one step closer to playing in the WUSA league if he likes what he sees. The game also unfortunately coincides with the rescheduled wedding of Jess' sister. — Huggo
  • Of East Indian origin of the Sikh faith, the Bhamra family have been settled in Great Britain for several years. They have two daughters, Pinky and Jessminder. While Pinky is in the process of getting married, Jessminder is preparing to play football - which is not acceptable to her parents. But Jessminder knows she is good at the sport, and she does receive considerable encouragement. Her parents are clearly uncomfortable with their daughter running around in shorts, chasing a big ball, instead of being clad in a traditional salwar khameez, and learning to cook East Indian recipes. Jessminder must now decide what's important for her. To make matters worse, a football tournament is arranged on the very day of her sister's marriage. Will Jessminder be able to play, or will her dreams be shattered? — rAjOo ([email protected])
  • Jesminder "Jess" Bhamra (Parminder Nagra) is the 18-year-old daughter of Punjabi Sikhs living in London. Juliette "Jules" Paxton (Keira Knightley) is the same age and the daughter of an English family. Jess is infatuated with football but because she's a woman, her family won't let her play. However, she sometimes plays in the park with other boys and her best friend, Tony (Ameet Chana) who is a closet homosexual. Jules discovers Jess' skills whilst on a jog through the park. She befriends Jess and invites her to try out for the local women's football team, the Hounslow Harriers coached by Joe (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Jess is extremely happy and excited about the try-outs even though Joe is skeptical about a new player joining the team. After seeing Jess' skills, Joe accepts her on the team. Jess lies to Joe about her parents being cool with the idea. Jess develops an attraction towards Joe and when the team take a trip to Hamburg and go out clubbing, they're caught about to kiss by Jules; who also had a crush on Joe. This sours Jess and Jules' friendship as Jules was adamant, she'd told Jess about her crush. When Jess arrives at Jules' house to patch up their friendship, Mrs. Paxton (Juliet Stevenson) is misled and thinks they're hiding a lesbian relationship. Jess' parents, (Anupam Kher) and (Shaheen Khan), find out that Jess has been playing football behind their backs, they become stricter and prevent Jess from playing any more matches. The elder Bhamras are distracted by the elaborate wedding plans for Jess' older sister, Pinky (Archie Panjabi). Thanks to Jess and Jules' skills, the Harriers reach the finals of the league tournament. Unfortunately, the final and the wedding are on the same day. Joe pleads with Mr. Bhamra to allow Jess to play but he refuses. Mr. Bharma reveals that he doesn't want Jess to suffer the same way he did when he was kicked out of the cricket club because of his race. Joe pleads with Mr Bhamra to let Jess play, but he is firm & Joe is forced to start the finals without her. A talent scout is also at the game who will choose players for the US professional women's soccer league. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity. Halfway through Pinky's wedding, Tony convinces Mr. Bhamra to let Jess go. He agrees and Tony drives Jess to the game where the Harriers are losing 1-0 with half an hour left. Jess and Jules tie the score, and when Jess is awarded a free kick, she must bend the ball around the wall of players to score. Jess succeeds and the Harriers win the tournament. Jess and Jules are offered scholarships at Santa Clara University in California. Jules tells her parents immediately whereas Jess has trouble telling hers. Jules and Mrs. Paxton arrive at the wedding for Jules to celebrate with Jess. Mrs. Paxton accuses Jess of being a hypocrite and a lesbian. Jules grabs her mother and runs off in shame. Jess still hasn't told her parents about the scholarship. Tony decides to lie to the family and tells them he's engaged to Jess as long as she gets to go to any college she wants. Jess reveals the lie and Mrs. Bhamra accuses her husband of allowing her to play and refuses. Mr. Bhamra convinces Mrs. Bhamra after telling her he doesn't want Jess suffering like he did. Jess flees to the football field to tell Joe of her parent's decision. The two almost kiss, but Jess pulls away, saying her parents would object, and that although they had come far enough to let her go to America to play, she doesn't think they would be able to handle another cultural backlash from her. On the day of Jess' and Jules' flight, Mrs. Paxton gives her daughter a football jersey, and wishes her good luck. The two are about to board the plane when Joe arrives and confesses his love for Jess. The two kiss and Jess agrees to sort out a relationship (and her parents) when she returns for Christmas. Jess and Jules send their parents a team photograph, and it is revealed that Pinky is pregnant. Mr. Bhamra practices cricket with Joe's help.

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Bend it Like Beckham Movie Analysis

  • Author: arsalan
  • Posted on: 22 Oct 2019
  • Paper Type: Free Essay
  • Subject: English
  • Wordcount: 1378 words
  • Published: 22nd Oct 2019


“Bend it Like Beckham” is a movie that revolves around Jess and her dream to be a footballer. She belongs to a Sikh, Indian family that is quite traditional with fixed values living abroad. Her dream to be a great footballer compelled her to go against the norms of her family that are quite strict and cannot imagine a girl to be a part of the foreign team. But she is shown quite consistent, so with the help of Juliet, her British friend and Joe, an Irish coach. In the movie, the family of Jess also plays a significant role; initially, after knowing about her, they disagree with her due to their cultural values but eventually agree with her and support her. The family put all the cultural and traditional conflict aside and accepts Jess with her dream. It is a comedy movie, which focused on the cultural interaction and racism people hold for each other (Bend it Like Beckham, 2002). One can observe cultural relativism in this film, and observe that no culture is superior to others rather traditions are meant to be respected but not to humiliate someone.

Description of Movie Family

Bend it as Beckham focuses on an eighteen years old girl and her dream to be a great football player. The whole movie revolved around the conflicts between different cultures and the girl’s dream and her wishes that make her against her family value and traditions. There are only a few characters in the movie although are all important as all contribute their equal part in the making a whole family. The movie begins with the planning of marriage of Jess’ sister Pinky who is a self-centered girl and is concerned about her lifestyle. She loves to wear all expensive both modern and traditional dresses and wants to look stylish and different from others. Initially, Pinky is shown as a narcissistic girl who is not concerned with anybody else, but as the movie progress, she becomes concerned for her younger sister too. Joe, the Irish coach of Jess football team, is also a significant character in the movie. He also faces the same issue of racism just like Jess as he belongs to a different ethnic group. Mother of Jess is a strong traditional lady who loves her homeland and has shown against Jess obsession over football. She loves her daughters and has brought up her girls with strong traditional values and has trained her with all sort house chores but she dislikes her involvement in football. The movie has shown the severe tension between the Indian and British culture with an ethos of Irish culture.

Assessment of Cultural and Ethnic Traits

This film is famous for showing cultural relativism along with biculturalism that has been shown by the presence of Indian and British values, traditions, norms, and their culture (Friedman, Bowden & Jones, 2003). The film shows not only the cultural values of two countries but also their thinking patterns and their philosophy of life.

Socio-cultural aspects

After the 2nd World War, the British culture has changed a lot both culturally and socially. There are some factors behind these changes and has resulted in numerous impacts. One of the major effects of these changes is the drastic change in the women role as she was not supposed to work with men. Today’s women of British Empire is an independent woman who can work freely anywhere with anybody. There are major differences in today’s ‘English culture and Indian culture that has diverse backgrounds with strong traditions and values. Indians have strong traditional values and norms, and they have preserved their values over the time. They have a strong love for faa family and respect for their elders. The movie has shown this socio-cultural difference in a unique and convincing manner.

Environmental aspects

The environment plays a very important role in shaping one’s lifestyle. The environment that has been portrayed in the movie shows a huge difference between two cultures. The environment of British people is such that where people share equal gender roles. Despite this factor, people are being discriminated based on their ethnicity, their race, their color, their religion, and their culture. The movie has shown this discrimination of Sikh family and Irish coach in Britain just because of their ethnicity. On the other hand, the environment of the Indian family is different from those f English people. The movie has shown that although Jess family has been living abroad for a long time. But even then they are having a deep love for their values and traditions. The movie has also shown the Indians also discriminate people based on their ethnicity as Pinky got her engagement broken because she was kissing some white boy and her in-laws saw her doing so.


The movie has shown the communication differences between two cultures. Indian culture focuses on non-verbal communication rather verbal communication. Individuals belonging to Indian cultures prefer to stay silent in the presence of their elders as a symbol of respect. On the other hand, English culture focuses on the individual freedom and autonomy. People of individualistic cultures like English, Irish prefer direct verbal communication. There are specified rules and ways to talk with elders in Indian cultures.

Decision-making power

The movie has also shown the changes in the cultures over the time as in movie it has been shown that youngsters prefer to have decision making power rather than giving this authority to family or elder as in case of Jess’ friend Juliet’s sexual orientation, she does not like her mother’s interference. But in Indian culture, it has been shown that the highest authority belongs to family elder male member, and no one is allowed to speak against his decisions.

Roles in family

The role of mother is different in both cultures; as evident by the role of Jess’ and Juliet’s mothers. The Indian mother transmits the knowledge of family traditions to the family whereas the British mother is an independent woman. Both mothers love their daughters although both do not like their daughters’ involvement in football, Juliet’s mother accept it earlier than that of Jess’ (Gee, 2014).

Assessment of Development or Functional Competency

When people share cultures, values, and their identities with each other, they start accepting each other’s uniqueness and individuality as shown in Bend it like Beckham.

The Indian culture in the movie has shown giving importance to traditions, values, norms, family, and elders. On the other hand, British culture has shown giving respect to independence and freedom.

Child rearing and socialization

Childrearing practices shown in the movie are quite different for the two cultures. Juliet does not allow the interference of her mother, whereas the decisions in Jess’ family are made by parents. The movie shows that Juliet’s mother wants to resolve the conflict with her daughter and she has shown to be assertive like Juliet as she possesses all the traits similar to her daughter. On the other hand, Jess’ mother is a relationship-oriented woman who loves to do house chores, and she wants that her daughters also get skilled in these activities so that they can have good marital life in future (Bend it like Beckham, 2002). Indian parents, in the movie, have shown to give a lot of emphasizing on family, marriage, home-making, house chores, and children. The British culture has shown to revolve around giving autonomy to the individual for marriage but arranged marriages are still preferred in Indian families. A strong parental child relationship is preferred in Indian cultures whereas a weak bond has been shown in the movie between English mother and her daughter.

Healthcare practices

No special health care beliefs and practices have been shown in the movie in both cultures, but one major thing that was focused on both cultures was the hatred for same-sex relationships. As Juliet’s mother is shown worried about the sexual orientation of her daughter and thought that she is having feelings for her friend, Jess.

The movie has shown that even after living in England for a long time, Indians have not accepted the British culture and have not adjusted with their uniqueness; similar has been shown by the people of England, they still discriminate others based upon their ethnicity and race. But the movie has shown another unique thing that although the elder are quite fixated on their tradition yet, youngsters are quite adapted and have accepted each other’s identity and uniqueness. But at the end, the movie has shown the acceptance of the changes and new values by elders (Desai, 2013).


The movie Bend it like Beckham has shown the uniqueness of cultures and identities uniquely. The film is different because it shows the cultural disputes between the two different and major cultures of the time i-e Indian culture and British culture. The movie has shown how the girl peruses her dreams despite much cultural disparity and differences. The movie has shown multiculturalism in a very exclusive manner and depicted the differences. The movie has shown the importance of both cultures that everyone is unique in its way ((Friedman, Bowden & Jones, 2003).

Bend It Like Beckham. (2002). United Kingdom.

Desai, J. (2013). Negotiating national and transnational cultural citizenship. Routledge Handbook of Indian Cinemas, 206.

Friedman, M. M., Bowden, V. R., & Jones, E. (2003). Family nursing: Research, theory & practice. Pearson.

Gee, S. (2014). Bending the codes of masculinity: David Beckham and flexible masculinity in the new millennium. Sport in Society, 17 (7), 917-936.


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Bend It Like Beckham: Movie Analysis

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Home — Essay Samples — Entertainment — Bend It Like Beckham — Sociological Themes In The Film Bend It Like Beckham


Sociological Themes in The Film Bend It Like Beckham

  • Categories: Bend It Like Beckham Film Analysis Gender Stereotypes

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Words: 1674 |

Published: Aug 6, 2021

Words: 1674 | Pages: 4 | 9 min read

  • Bend it Like Beckham. Dir. Gurinder Chadha. Perf. Parminder Nagra, Keira Knightley, Jonathon Rhys Meyers. Fox Searchlight, 2002. DVD.
  • Bhachu, P. (1988). Apni Marzi Kardhi: home and work: Sikh women in Britain (pp. 76-102). S. Westwood, & P. Bhachu (Eds.). London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
  • Durkheim, E. (1912). The Elementary Forms of Religious Life.
  • Griffin, P. (1998). Strong Women, Deep Closets: Lesbians and Homophobia in Sport. Human Kinetics: Windsor, Ontario.
  • Status of Women and Family Planning, quoted in United Nations, Population of India (New York, ESCAP Population Publication, Country Monography Series No. 10, 1982), p. 359.
  • Theberge, N. (1981). A critique of critiques: Radical and feminist writings on sport. Social Forces, 60(2), 341-353.

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Home / Essay Samples / Entertainment / Bend It Like Beckham / Analysis Of The Themes In The Film Bend It Like Beckham

Analysis Of The Themes In The Film Bend It Like Beckham

  • Category: Entertainment
  • Topic: Bend It Like Beckham , Film Analysis , Movie Review

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